Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Monday, May 12, 2008


When it comes to fashion, I like separates. Mixing different shirts and sweaters [tops] with pants and skirts [bottoms] makes it easier for me to stretch my dollars and my wardrobe and it helps keep me from getting too tired of any one look.

Our basket this week reflects the vegetable version of that in terms of encompassing an array of vegetables, some of which are known for their "tops", or greens, and some of which are exciting because of their "bottoms", or roots. Today's harvest in Basket Number Seven, yielded a lovely large head of romaine, cilantro, (tops if you will) and two yellow granex onions, leeks, carrots, and a head of garlic (bottoms) , all of which I know just what to do with.

The stretch in this week's basket will be a large bunch of French Sorrel, which I have zero experience with (so far). Our newsletter included a recipe for Sorrel Vichyssoise, but my partner in basketry here is not a huge Vichyssoise fan. So it's off to the internet for me to find out more about Sorrel, to review several recipes, and to find one that seems to hold promise for our first ever venture into Sorrel Appreciation. This Searching for Sorrel will take me hopefully more in the ready to wear category of recipes, and not too far into haute cuisine. I know these vegetables have been appearing on farm tables for centuries. That is the kind of approach I want to find. Something simple, respectful of the freshness and nutritional bounty the sorrel can bring, as opposed to one of those page long recipes calling for a specialty pan, a twenty dollar bottle of vinegar and a pinch of some spice I'll need an ethnic grocer to supply.

We also got some golden beets which are prized not only for their own sweetness, but also for their greens. Our newsletter pointed out that beets and Swiss chard are essentially the same plant - one bred for leaves and the other for roots. Now that was a news flash for me, and it helps me to better understand how to use the beet tops now that I know they are just chard with an over developed root on one end. And that is something I realize is my "next step". I've been pretty good about using all my vegetables but there are a lot of greens I put into my compost pile that other people have cooked and eaten. While I am giving myself a free ride for a bit on that count - I am making good progress - I know I still have a way to go in my education in local eating. The Asparagus Army watches and waits....

Learning to do something new well includes running the risk of the occasional "C-" for a few dishes that don't quite please all palates- but at least we get to eat the homework. To recap my assignment: Find a recipe or preparation technique for Sorrel that will have us wondering how we lived without it for so long. I'll keep you posted.

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